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Overpayments of Scottish benefits

This advice applies to Scotland

This information is about overpayments of these benefits paid by Social Security Scotland:

  • Best Start Grant Pregnancy and Baby Payment, Early Learning Payment and School Age Payment
  • Scottish Child Payment 
  • Young Carer Grant
  • Funeral Support Payment
  • Child Winter Heating Assistance.

It doesn't cover overpayments of Best Start Foods or Job Start Payment

It doesn't cover overpayments of Best Start Foods or Job Start Payment even though these are both paid by Social Security Scotland.

This is because the Best Start Food payment cards and Job Start Payment are issued under different laws to the other Scottish benefits.

Read what to do if you don't agree with a decision about Best Start Foods
Read what to do if you don't agree with a decision about Job Start Payment

It doesn't cover overpayments of Carer's Allowance Supplement

It doesn't cover overpayments of Carer's Allowance Supplement even though this is paid by Social Security Scotland. This is because it is a temporary type of assistance which is being paid until a new Scottish replacement for Carer's Allowance is set up. Read more about Carer's Allowance Supplement.

It also doesn’t cover overpayments of benefits paid by other benefit authorities such as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or local authorities. Read about overpayments of other benefits.

What is an overpayment

An overpayment is when Social Security Scotland pays you more money than you’re entitled to.

This might happen because: 

  • Social Security Scotland made a mistake
  • your circumstances changed and you’re no longer entitled to some or all of the benefit.

Social Security Scotland will send you a letter, telling you how much you owe and how to repay the money. This is called a 'notice to pay'.

If you don't agree that you've been overpaid

If you don't agree that you've been overpaid, contact Social Security Scotland.

It can look again at the decision that you've been overpaid. This is an informal review.

Social Security Scotland 
General Enquiries
PO Box 10301
Dundee
DD1 9FY

Phone: 0800 182 2222 (9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday)
Website: www.socialsecurity.gov.scot 

Do you have to pay back the overpayment

You’ll usually have to pay back the overpayment if Social Security Scotland decides:

  • the overpayment was your fault, or
  • you should have noticed that you'd been overpaid.

Social Security Scotland might decide the mistake is your fault if:

  • you gave incorrect or misleading information - you said or did something that gave Social Security Scotland wrong or misleading details about your situation
  • someone else gave wrong information for you - you asked someone else to say or do something that gave Social Security Scotland incorrect information about you.

When deciding if you should have noticed the overpayment, Social Security Scotland looks at things like:

  • the size of the overpayment - how much is the overpayment compared with how much you should have been paid. For example, if you were expecting to be paid £200 but you were actually paid £2,000, you might be expected to notice the overpayment. But if you were paid £201, you might not be expected to notice
  • what information Social Security Scotland gave you – were you told something that might have made you think there was a mistake. 

Time limit for recovering an overpayment

There’s a five year time limit for recovering an overpayment of benefit.

If Social Security Scotland knew that you'd been overpaid a benefit but didn't do anything to get the overpayment back for five years, it might no longer be able to recover the money from you.

If you don’t agree with Social Security Scotland’s decision that you should repay the overpayment, you can ask it to look at it again.  

How to pay back the overpayment

You’ll usually have to pay back the difference between the amount of benefit you were paid and the amount you should have been paid.

Social Security Scotland will send you a letter, telling you how much you owe and how to repay the money. This is called a 'notice to pay'.

You can pay back the overpayment:

  • at a bank branch or post office – remember to put your social security reference number as the payment reference
  • by internet banking.

Read more about how to pay back overpayments on mygov.scot.

If you can't afford to pay back the overpayment

If you can’t afford to pay, contact Social Security Scotland. You might be able to pay back the money over a longer period.

Social Security Scotland will do an affordability assessment to see what you can afford to pay. It will try to agree a repayment plan with you. 

Before you get in touch with Social Security Scotland, work out how much money you have coming in and going out. You could use our budgeting tool to help with this. 

Social Security Scotland 
General Enquiries
PO Box 10301
Dundee
DD1 9FY

Phone: 0800 182 2222 (9am to 3pm, Monday to Friday)
Website: www.socialsecurity.gov.scot 

If you don't pay back the overpayment

If you don't pay back the money you owe, Social Security Scotland could take you to court to force you to pay. 

Find out what happens if you're taken to court for money you owe.

If you don’t tell Social Security Scotland about an overpayment

In some cases, if you know you've been overpaid and you don’t tell Social Security Scotland, you could be committing benefit fraud.

If you’re prosecuted for fraud and found guilty, you could get a fine or a prison sentence. You'll usually have to pay back the overpayment too.

Read more about Scottish benefits and benefit fraud.

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